The BJP and Congress are at loggerheads over a Facebook data scandal involving private firm Cambridge Analytica. The trading of charges between the two parties came following the Facebook's admission last week that Cambridge Analytica used data that had been collected from 50 million users without their consent, an act of breach of privacy.
In an exclusive interview with India TV, Union Minister and senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the Congress is levelling charges on BJP out of frustration.
Prasad insisted that the Congress has used the services of Cambridge Analytica, which has been accused of harvesting people's data from platforms like Facebook unlawfully to influence elections in different countries.
Prasad also questioned why the Congress was silent for five months on data theft charges. He said that several media reports about the opposition party using the services of the firm had appeared in October and November last year and it never denied those stories till the BJP raised the issue earlier this week.
He alleged that imprints of Cambridge Analytica were "visible" in the Congress' campaign in Gujarat.
"Footprints of Congress-Cambridge Analytica ties were visible during Gujarat Assembly elections," he said. "It ran a poisonous and divisive campaign."
"Rahul Gandhi signed the deal with CA to win the 2019 general elections," he said.
The minister reiterated that any firm indulging in wrongdoings will not be spared. He said that Facebook, which has a robust presence in the country, is welcome, provided there is no compromise on data security.
"But companies like CA has no place because they have publically claimed that 'we abuse the system to influence the supporters'."
"Any sanctity of India's voting pattern should not be compromised," he said.
Yesterday, Prasad had cited several media reports which said the company would work for Congress president Rahul Gandhi ahead of the next Lok Sabha polls, and asked how many times Rahul had met Cambridge's now sacked CEO Alexander Nix.
Prasad alleged that the firm had been accused of using "sex, sleaze and fake news" to influence elections and asked if the Congress too planned to walk the same path. He asked Rahul to explain the company's role in his social media outreach.
He had even warned Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg of "stringent action" including summoning him over "misuse" of data to allegedly influence electoral process.
Watch video: Ravi Shankar Prasad speaks to India TV